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CSR Aratum Philippines

Making an Impact on Farming Communities One Step at a Time

Empowering Filipino Farmers through the Help of Technology

As a developing country, the Philippines has a lot of challenges, but one of its most critical crises is its declining state of agriculture. Agriculture in the country reported its lowest GDP contribution yet. From 2018-2021, the statistics were within the 9.5-9.65% range with newly-appointed agricultural ministers but found its way further down to 8.9% in 2022.

It is a huge problem for the country because farming is still a big portion of the livelihood for many communities in the Philippines. Due to the lack of knowledge, training, and education, many of them lose hope in agriculture. They would prefer their children to take jobs in metropolitan cities with more lucrative pay and for the promise of “a better life.” But this transition may not have been a successful one, either.

“The future of farming is really at stake, considering that based on the current demographics, most farmers in the Philippines are 50 years old and above, so who’s going to be our generation of farmers?” says Apple Anlap, Aratum Account Manager for Visayas and Mindanao.

The Philippines is close to the hearts of our people at Aratum. Despite only having a small local team, we want to create an impact on communities. One of our core values is caring, which extends beyond ourselves or our colleagues. We want to show our care for the wider community, especially those in need. We can’t instantly change the world, but we must start somewhere, one person and one community at a time.

Aratum is derived from the Latin word for “plowing the field.” The idea of preparing the land, creating the right conditions, and nurturing the environment are at the heart of our organization. So naturally, agriculture and farming are close to our hearts.

Aratum realized that the best way for us to help is through our resources, people, and technology. But since we are not specialists in this area, we looked around for those already providing support, and that’s when we came across GK Enchanted Farm.

GK Enchanted Farm, a platform under Gawad Kalinga, seeks to help Filipino farmers get out of poverty by teaching them new farming innovations and techniques. They also provide land for farmers’ housing and a distribution channel for their produce.

One of the many farmers whose life was changed was Arnold Balahadja. “At first, I didn’t know how to plant these kinds of plants. I just learned about the best practices and new farming techniques here in GK Enchanted Farm, so I’m thankful to them.”

Simple technology can improve the farmers’ existing processes and enhance efficiency and accuracy in their livelihood.

“Our goal is to help our farmers get the most out of their jobs and get the youth to embrace farming as well. We help raise the young generation of farmers to become agri-entrepreneurs,” Maria Cristina Calvadores, GK Enchanted Farm manager, says.

“The farmers work with their hands, from digging to using a hoe, but it’s a lot different nowadays that new technological innovations were introduced. Machines work faster and make farming more efficient for farmers like myself,” adds Mr. Balahadja.

Making an Impact on Farming Communities One Step at a Time

On July 12, 2023, the Aratum team set forth to the GK Enchanted Farm in Angat, Bulacan, to experience farming sustainably, using the latest agricultural strategies and technologies.
Our team was able to see firsthand how these farmers approached the field and their processing capabilities. We were hands-on in helping plow and placing seeds on the land so we could understand their experience.

The Aratum team spoke with the local farmers and their families about their experiences. We also purchased their produce and understood the dynamics behind the farming activities. It is our goal to support this community and empower its farmers and families.

GK Enchanted Farm also helps social entrepreneurs with producing, marketing, packaging, and distributing their products (apart from helping independent farmers sell their produce).
“We wanted to go directly to the people who will largely benefit from our solutions–those small and medium enterprises. During the pandemic, online shopping was such a hit in the Philippines, and so we want to help these sellers run their businesses wisely. The system and solutions that we provide them will make them have data-driven decisions. That’s how we impact these agribusiness communities,” says Ailene Lopez, Head of HR at Aratum.

Training, educating, and encouraging farmers to start their agribusinesses empowers them. It would eventually lead to the improvement of Philippine agriculture. This is why Aratum truly believes in the ethos of GK Enchanted Farm.

“Every time I see the smile of every person that we get to help, it makes me happy as well. I’m glad that I can help give people an opportunity to grow and to be content in their lives–for them to be motivated and hard-working because that will also inspire other people,” Ms. Calvadores shares.

“In the community, we want to do it one step at a time. We believe that if you do it one step at a time, later on, the compounding interest will be bigger and better. Thus making the impact long-lasting,” Ms. Lopez added.

As an organization, Aratum strives to impact one person and one community at a time. GK Enchanted Farm is one of many partners we will support in the upcoming years.

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